A Wild Camping Weekend in The Lakes (That Went To Plan!)
So we found ourselves with a free weekend early August and the weather forecast for the northwest of England was remarkably good (quite the oxymoron!) – Hence, what better way to spend our free time than drive up to the Lakes and tackle one of its iconic walking routes – ‘The Coledale Round’.
The northwestern fells were an area we had limited experience of, so it was the perfect choice for a weekend adventure! Close to Keswick and within easy access from the village of Braithwaite, the Coledale valley offered us a ring of popular peaks we could explore and the chance to bag 12 Wainwrights in one go!
Carrying a lighter backpack with just the bare essentials (excluding a decanted bottle of wine and a cheeky G&T), we headed to the hills full of enthusiasm for 2 nights of wild camping!
True to form, we didn’t get away without wearing our waterproofs for part of the time, but we were treated to a spectacular sunset whilst camping below Grisedale Pike on the first evening, which set the tone for the weekend.
With lush grass plateaus of vivid green and high fells cloaked in a purple haze, it was also wonderful to experience the Lakes in late summer and see the difference between seasons. Here is a round-up of time well spent in the understated but very impressive northwestern fells…
Friday 4th August, 2017 – Wild Camp Location: Coll between Grisedale Pike & Hopegill Head (Near the start of Hobcarton Crag)
Distance: 4.92km, Duration: 2 hrs 29 mins, Ascent: 761m / Descent: 176m
Having taken the afternoon off work, but still arriving in the Lakes around 6pm (no matter what time we set off, Friday traffic is always torturous!), we drove to Braithwaite hoping to park our car at the primary school, which is available for parking during the holidays. However, we couldn’t park overnight, so alternatively we found a small car park a short distance out of Braithwaite up the Whinlatter Road, that was perfect for starting our walk and making the ascent of Grisedale Pike that evening.
We quickly gained height after starting the ascent. Looking back onto the village of Braithwaite.
Looking back to the Skiddaw and Blencathra ranges.
A fantastic late summer’s evening to be in the fells.
Swathes of purple heather carpet the ridgeline.
Continuing up to Grisedale Pike. Looking back to the northern fells.
Late summer purple bloom.
The ridgeline offers expansive views towards Keswick and beyond.
On the summit of Grisedale Pike (791m) – our first Wainwright of the weekend! The ridgeline follows on to Sand Hill and Hopegill Head.
It was windy at the top! Another ‘selfie’ on the summit with Keswick and Derwent Water in the background.
Glorious golden hour light bathes the mountains. Heading down from Grisedale Pike.
Looking towards Hobcarton Crag and Sand Hill. We didn’t have long before sunset so we were debating on where to set up camp.
Looking back to Grisedale Pike with Whinlatter Forest to the west.
Our chosen place to camp – down in the coll between Grisedale Pike & Hopegill Head, below Hobcarton Crag.
Looking over to Sail, Scar Crag (Eel Crag) and Grasmoor.
Panorama of our tremendous wild camp location. Now that’s what you call a room with a view!
A magical sunset… Perfect with a glass of vino! (It’s not quite as romantic drinking it out of a plastic cup!)
We were so glad that we made the decision to drive north in spite of the Friday traffic!
Enjoying time in our 2nd home!
Saturday 5th August, 2017 – Wild Camp Location: Just below Outerside on High Moss (Close to the stone wind shelter)
Distance: 18.4km, Duration: 8 hrs 53 mins, Ascent: 1,242m / Descent: 1,469m
After a wonderful start to the weekend, Saturday began a little differently. We awoke to rain battering the tent and complete white-out. We considered bailing out and heading back down to Braithwaite… But we thought we’d give it another half hour and see whether the cloud lifted as rain hadn’t been forecast. We’ve learnt by now to expect the unexpected as each valley has its own micro-climate and nothing in the Lakes is guaranteed!
By late morning, thankfully the sun did make an appearance so we were glad to have waited it out! We managed to bag another 9 peaks before we decided to call it a day. That left 2 for Sunday morning so we could work up an appetite for a hearty Cumbrian breakfast in Keswick before heading home!
Waking up to a very subdued morning. Looking across to Outerside and Causey Pike. Rain showers were taunting us to go home!
Heading to Hopegill Head and hoping the weather would improve.
Our first summit of the day in complete white-out – Hopegill Head at 770m.
But we weren’t in complete despair yet!
Blink and you’d miss it! A little break in the cloud affording views of Whiteside and Crummock Water. We were on our return; once again another top was in white-out.
Looking up Gasgale Gill towards Coledale Hause.
Even clearer… Looking back to Whiteside. Whiteside has three summits: the “Wainwright” top stands at the Crummock Water end of the ridge and has a height of 707 metres.
A break in the cloud and a much more pleasant walk up to Grasmoor. At 852m, it was our highest summit of the weekend.
Panorama from Grasmoor looking down to Buttermere and Crummock Water. Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike are seen beyond Buttermere.
Taking a rest break in the wind shelter on Grasmoor. It was fairly cold and windy up there, but the cloud lifted revealing some fantastic views of the western fells!
Selfie on Grasmoor with Buttermere in the background. Off with the waterproofs and on with warmer layers!
Descending Sand Hill to Coledale Hause looking towards Crag Hill (Eel Crag) at 839 metres.
From Coledale Hause looking back to Grisedale Pike.
Hiking alongside Liza Beck at Coledale Hause. A good place to resupply with water.
Following the trail to Whiteless Pike and looking on to Crummock Water.
Heading to the summit of Whiteless Pike at 660 metres.
It was a long and blustery ridge walk to reach Whiteless Pike.
Enjoying the spectacular view once the cloud had lifted!
We enjoyed expansive views of Crummock Water and Loweswater from the summit of Whiteless Pike.
Leaving Whiteless Pike and making our way to the next Wainwright of the day!
Heading up Whiteless Edge to Wandope from Whiteless Pike.
Panorama – Crag Hill and Sail as we head towards Wandope (772m).
Looking east to the Helvellyn range.
Stopping to enjoy the vast views to the eastern fells.
A little scramble down. Knott Rigg dominates the sky line.
The path up to Crag Hill, (839m) – Eel Crag as AW called it.
Reaching the Trig Point on the summit of Crag Hill (839m).
Selfie on Crag Hill with Skiddaw and Blencathra in the background.
Looking NE from Sail (773m) – the prominent switchbacks constructed by ‘Fix the Fells’, towards Scar Crags and the summit of Causey Pike.
Enjoying the glorious skies and lush grass – It’s a sheep’s life!
View across the ridge towards the Scar and Causey Pike.
Like rich, green velvet. Knott Rigg and Sail Beck from the Crag Hill traverse.
Descending the Scar Ridge.
Looking back towards Sail and the switchbacks we descended on, whilst heading to the summit cairn on Scar Crags (672m).
Looking back to the wonderful ridge walk we had just completed leading us to Causey Pike.
Taking a rest break on the summit of Causey Pike, our final Wainwright of the day at 637 metres, bringing our weekend total to 10 so far. We decided to save Outerside and Barrow for Sunday morning!
We took the track down to High Moss from Causey Pike and wild camped just below Outerside close to the stone wind shelter. There was flowing water in the beck a little downhill, so we topped up our supplies before making camp. It wasn’t as scenic as the previous night, but it was fairly sheltered and provided us with a good starting point for the morning.
One of our standard hiker meals – curried instant noodles with a fried egg on top – a la ‘Thai’ style!
Sunday 6th August, 2017 – On A Mission For A Full Cumbrian Breakfast!
Distance: 5.22km, Duration: 2 hrs 11 mins, Ascent: 227m / Descent: 589m
After an overall successful Saturday bagging 9 more Wainwrights to take our weekend total to 10 – we had 2 further peaks to reach before we could reward ourselves with a full Cumbrian breakfast. We were planning on completing our Coledale Round, then heading into Keswick to find a café offering the full works. There’s nothing like the promise of food to get a hiker moving!
So off we went, making the most of a dry morning, thrilled at such fantastic views across to the northern fells.
A beautiful morning to be making our way to Outerside with not too much ascent at 568 metres.
Looking at the trail as it meanders towards Outerside and enjoying expansive views to the northeast.
Meandering through the heather clad hills. Braithwaite is at the head of the valley.
Beautiful blooming heather.
Looking back to the high peaks of Coledale.
Photographing Derwent Water.
Looking towards Bassenthwaite Lake. Non-intentional… Osprey get some free advertising again!
Making our way to our final summit – Barrow. Modest in height at 455 metres, it still affords excellent 360° views from the summit.
Last peak in the bag! Our final Wainwright of the weekend – Barrow (455m).
Now hot-footing it back to Braithwaite on a well-worn route to fetch the car!
Moody skies from the north began to roll in… Thankfully we’d bagged our last two peaks before breakfast!
Almost back in Braithwaite by 10:30am. (And hoping a breakfast would still be available by the time we got to Keswick!)
A quick stop-off for a cold, refreshing drink from the village shop before reaching the car park.
Just rewards! It’s not a ‘proper’ breakfast without black pudding IMO – Enjoying a full Cumbrian from ‘The Golden Lion’ in Keswick where they serve breakfast until midday. (Thankfully!)
Well for once, our time in the Lake District all went to plan! We were pleased with the weather overall and thrilled to have discovered the little gem that is the Coledale valley! The ridge walks revealing vast panoramas in every direction were simply stunning, and the fells cloaked in purple heather made for a whole new experience for us in the Lakes.
We also bagged another 12 Wainwrights, taking our cumulative total to 65! We’ve still got a long way to go, but wild camping weekends like these make for great little walking adventures in their own right, so much so, we’re already looking forward to the next one.
If you have yet to visit the northwestern fells, make them a priority for your next trip!